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Your Fitness Questions Answered

June 20th, 2011 6 Comments

A couple of weeks ago you wrote in questions about your personal fitness issues.  A few of them are below with my answers.  If you don’t see yours, look out for it soon on a Monday (every Monday the theme on MTM is fitness).


I find that i don’t tone but I bulk….especially my arms and abs….also any inner upper thigh tips for bikini season!?modernhipsy

My most specific goal is obtaining more definition in my arms. Suggestions? peerintomywindow

Very simply, Repetition = Definition.

Lower the amount of weight you use (if any at all) in your exercises and increase the number of reps.

See answer for inner thighs and abs below.


Inner thigh flab is sooooo stubborn!! Unfortunately most of it is due to genetics and diet. My trainer taught me this exercise you can do at home while watching tv to tone up that area.  It’s still a favorite!


Click the pic to see the video

How to tone the legs if they’re the most stubborn part of me and i’m running my ass off as it is? tuchlr

When you do one exercise over and over, your body becomes accustomed to the movement and no longer reacts the same.  Running (or spinning or using the elliptical) consistently will get your heart rate up and burn calories, but it won’t tone your legs.

Just as I suggested above, to tone your legs, do lunges, squats, step-ups and presses with light weight.  Even in the middle of a run – just stop and start lunging for a while.  The objective is to change up your routine to challenge your body.  Also incorporate new forms of cardio or take a lifting class at the gym (instructors usually have you do squats repeatedly, more than you would do on your own).

Click here to see the lower body toning exercises I’ve posted. A lot of good ones there I had forgotten about!

Here is an outdoor circuit workout I put together for you to tone up after a run.


ModernHipsy also had issues with her midsection getting thicker.  I have the same problem!

Your abs are a muscle just like any other in your body.  When you exercise them, they will get bigger.  So instead of crunching yourself to a dense stomach and round figure, strengthen your abs by keeping them engaged during your other exercises.  This will greatly help your form and efficiency too.  Inhale deeply, then use your core to push the air out of your body.  This should pull your navel closer to your spine.  Keep your abs pulled in like this and breath normally.  Then begin your workout.

I posted this ab exercise a few weeks ago.  Not only will it help bring in your waistline, but it will also teach you how to engage your core through breath.

Click the pic for the How To.


You should also use this core tactic during your normal day when walking and to sit up straight.  If you focus on keeping your core engaged, you’ll find the muscles get stronger but not bigger.

Changing up your ab workout is also helpful.  Try out this routine:


Click the pic to see the video.


When I do ab work, I feel like I am straining my neck muscles. Do you have any suggestions for helping to focus on my abs, not my neck? lizatfolly

Yoga has helped me with this problem.  Continuing my practice has taught me to lengthen my body when historically I would compress, forcing the weight on my joints instead of my muscles.

When I do crunches, I put my fingers lightly behind my ears and lift my chin so my neck is straight and parallel to the floor.  As I move, I make sure to keep my neck straight.  Although I can’t lift as high off the ground, I still get the benefit of the movement without straining.


I live in DC and recently started running to work. Im loving my routine but not my backpack. Any suggestions for a running back pack? southerninthebeltway

I feel for you lady.  I’m not a fan of running with any excess.  CamelBak is the most popular brand for active backpacks (This one is on sale.).  I would hit up an REI and see which one is the most comfortable and fits your body the best.

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  • thanks Mary- this is really useful!
    I have a question regarding shoes-
    I love high top sneakers, which support my ankle, but are they good for exercising? I have to lose weight and I have just started taking lessons with a personal trainer (mostly cardio right now). do you think something like this could be okay for this purpose? http://cgi.ebay.com/BNWOT-NIKE-BLACK-LEATHER-HIGH-TOP-LADIES-TRAINERS-SZ-8-/370516620601?_trksid=p5197.m7&_trkparms=algo%3DLVI%26itu%3DUCI%26otn%3D5%26po%3DLVI%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D797466667652973075#ht_500wt_1156

    thanks a lot for your help in advance :)

  • I would be great if you could list the exercises that you do in the videos underneath. I want to try the outdoor circuit workout that you have posted, but it is taking forever to load, and keeps stalling about half-way through.

  • Love the outside workout Mary, I’m training for a marathon right now & could easily incorporate these during my short runs — how many times a week would you recommend to do that circuit?

    • Caroline,

      I would limit it to twice a week. The more you do it, the less challenging it will be. You don’t want your body to get in the habit of the routine.

      To keep up the intensity, add weights! You can get then at any sporting goods store. Then you can do so many more exercises!

  • I’ve been pimping that arm workout for over a year now. I use it as a ‘desk exercise’ and it’s just fantastic. Any other suggestions for exercises one can do at work? It’s not unusual for me to spend 12-14 hours a day at a desk. Even fitting in 1 hour workouts in the mornings and evenings….the sitting really takes it’s toll.

    • @Buffy

      So glad you find it useful.

      I’ll have a desk workout video soon. Stay tuned!